I don't know if you heard, but on February 3, 2016, I became the first rabbi ever to declare my "candidacy" for President of the United States of America. As you can imagine, mine is not a conventional candidacy. I do not seek to be nominated by the Republican party or by the Democratic party. I am not even declaring myself an independent. Rather, I, Rabbi Ephraim Z. Buchwald, have created a new party that has one primary goal: to bring back sacred time! Sacred time for individuals-sacred time for families-sacred time for businesses-sacred time for America! Therefore, my new party is known as "The Shabbat Party."
Now that I have your attention, allow me to explain:
Jewish tradition views the Sabbath Day (Shabbat) as "An Oasis in Time." In an era when digital technology has made the world a ubiquitous and continuous universal work space and has created an environment of constant distractions via smartphones, text messages, radios, telephones, televisions, videos and computer games, the Sabbath is a unique opportunity for spiritual and psychological renewal. It is a heavenly gift, a bit of "Divine therapy."
Around the year 1802, the British Romantic poet, William Wordsworth, wrote a poem entitled, "The World Is Too Much With Us." In this poem, Wordsworth criticized society's intense absorption with materialism, which he maintained resulted in people distancing themselves from nature. He wrote movingly that, "Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers, little we see in Nature that is ours; we have given our hearts away..." Imagine, Wordsworth wrote these words in the early 19th century, when a day of rest was still part of the social fabric of Western society! What would Wordsworth have written today, in the frenetic-paced, media-driven world of the 21st century?
The Shabbat Party agenda is to boldly declare the significance of the Sabbath Day. With my candidacy, I hope to convince the country that the Sabbath is a Divine opportunity for us to catch our breath, to look inward, not outward, to be introspective. It offers us the chance to dedicate time to simple but invaluable pleasures such as hugging our children, looking our spouses in the eye, and engaging in true communication without the constant interruptions of today's technology. And this therapy is absolutely FREE!
Imagine sitting down to dinner without the pressure of answering calls from the boss, and being able to exercise this freedom again at lunch the next day. Consider how therapeutic a slow Sabbath Day walk is for those fighting burnout, how invigorating the opportunity to nap is for those suffering chronic exhaustion, and how important the opportunity to build community is for those suffering from existential loneliness.
Every community may have their own method of celebrating the Sabbath, but there is one constant idea that they all share -- that a Sabbath Day is a day for connecting more profoundly to others and more meaningfully to the Divine. Technological advances have made our lives easier, but they have complicated the ways we interact with each other, with the world and with God. At the heart of the Shabbat Party is family and/or community. By slowing down and unplugging, even for one day a week, we give ourselves the opportunity to connect with ourselves, connect with our families, connect with our friends and connect with our neighbors.
I am running for President because if our society truly desires to put an end to much of the malaise, depression, violence and crime that afflict our nation, we need to transform America into one family and build a united American community. I am running for President because the Jewish concept of Shabbat is something that I believe that all the people of our country desperately need and can benefit from. My political agenda is simple: weekly sacred time -- perhaps a 25 hour period -- for friends and families to spend time together without distractions -- time to resurrect the human infrastructure and to heal society's ills.
It has been said that the Sabbath is G-d's greatest gift to humankind. Embrace it. Savor it, and you will soon recognize that it is truly "a Taste of the World to Come."
Are you open for a little "spiritual experimentation"? If you are, try a real Shabbat Party, and join me and tens of thousands of other North American Jews on Friday night, March 4th, 2016, for "A Taste of the World to Come," by celebrating together at NJOP's Shabbat Across America and Canada at a location near you. Call 1-888-SHABBAT or visit www.shabbatacrossamerica.org